Ask Colin

Should a beginner buy MetaStock, Insight Trader or something else?
MetaStock is the most popular charting software on the market. This is partly because it has been around a long time, but also it is widely advertised and promoted. You need to be aware that it originates in the US and getting support is not easy. One of the big selling points for Insight Trader for me is that there is local support available at a reasonable price.
 All software takes time to learn, a lot of time. MetaStock and Insight trader would probably be similar in this respect. However, there may be rather more learning tools available for Insight Trader in the form of CD and DVD seminars and tutorials. These are sold by BeyondInvest and Insight Trading.
 If I had no prior knowledge of either software, and you held a gun to my head to decide which to buy, it would be very difficult to give a clear answer. It just is not a simple question to answer.
 If it were me, I would not buy either of them initially. I would learn technical analysis at Kaplan Education (previously FINSIA) and while doing so, rely on free internet charting like Bigcharts.com, Incredible charts, Yahoo finance. There may also be a free charting facility on your brokers web site.
 Then you need to devise an investment or speculation plan. This will determine what functions you need in the software, what indicators you are going to want and what level of support you need. You should end up with a list of the things you need in the software.
 Then you need to survey the market. There is a lot on the internet, so start there. Then go to investment expos and things like the AIA annual conference, where you can see software being used and ask all the questions you need to ask. Score each software package against your checklist of requirements.
 My best advice is not to rush this. It may be five years down the track before you will be ready to make a sensible choice. You can do everything you need in the meanwhile on the internet using free tools. Using them will help you to develop your wish list for the software you eventually buy. Just remember the old adage about marriage  what you decide in haste, you regret at leisure. Learning the software is a big task. I would not start the buying campaign until you know what you need.

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